By Kyle Shohara
[Editor's Note: This story was originally published prior to Calgary's 7-4 victory in Game 6 vs. Vancouver
Yesterday, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said he’d put his players through a demanding practice today, akin to one used in training camp. And today he delivered on his promise, while having some fun at the same time.
After the hour-long skate this afternoon at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE, the Ducks took part in a lively cross-ice pickup game with nets on either side. So while the hard skate was intended to keep the players from slipping into a state of complacency from the lengthy break, the post-practice game was used as a way to keep the players upbeat amidst the toll of the season.
“It can’t all be grind, grind, grind,” said Boudreau. “It’s a long enough year. We’re trying to put some fun into the practices. We’ll start getting a lot more serious on Monday.”
As for the training camp-esque skate, it was something the players also wanted. “They don’t want to take their foot off the gas,” said Boudreau. “Every round you’re fortunate enough to be [a part of], you need a good, hard practice. For 60 minutes, it was basically skating back and forth. There wasn’t a lot of systems play, but I thought it was something we needed.”
“Guys worked hard, and the intensity and focus was there,” said Tim Jackman. “That’s a good thing. Guys are excited about what’s going on in this locker room. We have a little bit of a rest period here, but when we’re at the rink, it has to be business. When the game starts, we have to be ready. We can’t wait a couple of periods to get going.”
A day off tomorrow will allow them to rest up for the coming week, when systems work and full-on preparation begins against what could be still an undetermined opponent come Monday morning. The Ducks will face the winner of the Calgary-Vancouver series, which the Flames currently lead 3-2. Game 6 will be played tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
“I’m a big fan of the playoffs and it’s fun watching the other games, seeing what’s going on,” said Jackman, whom the Ducks acquired from Calgary on Nov. 21, 2013. “Those are two desperate teams tonight. It’s should be a good game. Calgary plays with a lot of speed and a lot of heart and passion. But no matter who we play, it’s going to be tough.” Jackman recorded 13 goals, 36 points and 297 penalty minutes in 209 games with the Flames from 2010-13.
Boudreau said maintenance days were given to defensemen Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner today, hence the reason why they weren’t on the ice. Both are expected to skate on Monday.
Goaltender John Gibson took part in the full practice and could potentially be ready to serve as backup when the Second Round series begins sometime next week. “He said he felt really good, so that’s a really positive sign, and Nate Thompson feels good,” said Boudreau. “[Thompson] feels good, but we’ll still monitor him a little more closely.” Thompson did not appear in the First Round series vs. Winnipeg, but has skated with the team for the past week. The Anchorage, Alaska native has been out of the lineup since April 11 with an upper-body injury, while Gibson has been sidelined since April 10 with an upper-body injury.
Rookie center Chris Wagner skated on his own prior to practice, but Boudreau says his availability remains up in the air. “He’s skating and shooting, but I haven’t asked the trainers on his [timetable]. I don’t think he’ll be available.”